Posted on February 6, 2013 by Bob Berwyn
Spruce beetle infestation grows in southwestern mountains
Aerial surveys show that spruce beetles are spreading in SW Colorado, while pine beetles slow their attack in the northern and central part of the state.
The spread of mountain pine beetles slowed to levels last seen in 2003.
By Summit Voice
SUMMIT COUNTY — Mountain pine beetle activity in Colorado dropped dramatically in 2012, to the lowest level in 10 years, according to state and federal officials who this week released the the results of their latest aerial surveys.
Mountain pine beetles are still spreading across parts of the mountains between Estes Park and Leadville, but new activity was reported on just 31,000 acres, down from 141,000 acres in 2011. Since the outbreak started in 1996, beetles killed trees across more than 3.4 million acres, but it’s important to remember that not every single tree died.
In the aftermath of the infestation, foresters are finding that pockets of younger trees survived the wave of beetles, even in the hardest-hit areas. (more…)
Filed under: agriculture, climate and weather, Colorado, Environment, Forest health, forests, pine beetles | Tagged: Colorado, forest heath, forests, Mountain pine beetle, pine beetles, spruce beetles, U.S. Forest Service | 1 Comment »
Posted on January 26, 2013 by Bob Berwyn
Pine beetle-killed trees in Summit County, Colorado.
Dartmouth scientists study pine beetle population dynamics
By Summit Voice
SUMMIT COUNTY — Dartmouth scientists say they may have found a pathway to keeping pine beetles in check, showing that their populations fluctuate between extremes, with no middle ground.
“That is different from most species, such as deer, warblers and swallowtail butterflies, whose populations tend to be regular around some average abundance based on food, weather, and other external factors,” said Matt Ayres, a professor in the Department of Biological Sciences at Dartmouth and senior author on the paper. “They don’t appear and disappear in cycles. Rather, they exist in two stable equilibrium states—one of high abundance and the other of scarcity.”
Once the population pendulum swings toward the high end, it won’t quickly or easily swing back, Ayres explained.
According to the new study, forest managers might be able to keep pine beetle populations at the low end of the scale by boosting competitor and predator beetle populations — but they don’t address how that could affect the overall equilibrium of forest ecosystems, especially those where older trees need a change agent like bark beetles to spur regeneration. (more…)
Filed under: Environment, Forest health, pine beetles | Tagged: Bark beetle, Biology, Dartmouth, forest ecosystems, Forest health, forests, pine beetles | Leave a Comment »
Posted on January 16, 2013 by Bob Berwyn
Nature mitigates its own impacts
Young trees and brush are increasing their nitrogen uptake in the wake of the pine beetle infestation, helping to minimize impacts to water quality. Bob Berwyn photo.
By Summit Voice
SUMMIT COUNTY — Early fears that the bark beetle epidemic could degrade water quality are proving unfounded, according to CU-Boulder scientists, who said smaller trees and undergrowth that survive the epidemic have increased their uptake of nitrogen as the older trees die.
While logging or damaging storms can drive stream nitrate concentrations up by 400 percent for multiple years, the team found no significant increase in the nitrate concentrations following extensive pine beetle tree mortality in a number of Colorado study areas, according to CU-Boulder Professor William Lewis. (more…)
Filed under: Colorado, Environment, Forest health, forests, pine beetles | Tagged: Colorado, CU Boulder, Environment, forests, pine beetles, water quality | Leave a Comment »
Posted on September 16, 2012 by Bob Berwyn
Pine beetles running out of food, spruce beetle infestation growing
Mountain pine beetle mortality is on the decline across the western U.S.
Spruce and fir mortality is on the increase in Colorado.
By Bob Berwyn
SUMMIT COUNTY — Tree mortality from insects and diseases has dropped dramatically in the past few years, mainly because mountain pine beetles are running out of food, according to a new report from the U.S. Forest Service.
But the next significant cycle of insect infestation has already reached epidemic proportions in the south-central Rockies, where spruce beetles are devastating stands of mature spruce trees. The spruce beetle outbreak has been especially intense in the San Juans, where the bugs have killed almost every single mature tree from the creek bottoms all the way up to high-elevation krummholz.
It will be interesting to see if the numbers go back up after this summer’s drought weakened trees across the region.
Filed under: climate and weather, Colorado, Drought, Environment, Forest health, forests, pine beetles, US Forest Service | Tagged: 2011 forest mortality, drought, Environment, forests, Mountain pine beetle, pine beetles, spruce beetles, United States Forest Service | 4 Comments »
Posted on July 22, 2012 by Bob Berwyn
Researchers continue to pinpoint the fire risk associated with beetle-killed trees.
New study helps quantify ignition time of beetle-killed trees
By Bob Berwyn
SUMMIT COUNTY — Chemical changes in pine attacked by bark beetles start as soon as two weeks after the bugs start to burrow under the bark and make the trees more prone to ignition.
Overall, beetle-killed trees in the early and mid-stages of infestation may pose a greater risk of fast-spreading crown fires, though other factors are also important, including the structure of the tree, the presence or absence of ground and ladder fuels and terrain and weather. (more…)
Filed under: Colorado, forest fires, forests, pine beetles and wildfires | Tagged: beetle kill, forest fires, Forest health, forests, Lodgepole Pine, pine beetles, Wildfires | Leave a Comment »
Posted on June 29, 2012 by Bob Berwyn
Wildfire season getting longer, experts say
Firefighters in Summit County, Colorado, battle a small fire in late March, 2012, while standing on a berm of snow, a testament to unusually early wildfire conditions. Photo by Bob Berwyn.
By Bob Berwyn
SUMMIT COUNTY — A rapidly intensifying fire season across the West is a warning of what to expect in a world that’s heating up, according to a panel of climate scientists and environmental advocates who this week held a teleconference to point out links between global warming and wildfires.
“We know that climate is already warming. The disastrous fires we’ve seen fit into a pattern of increased fire risk … it’s a vivid image of what we can expect more of as the world warms more, said Princeton professor Michael Oppenheimer, a long-time member of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.
“We’re seeing a window into what global warming really looks like. It looks like heat, it looks like fires,” Oppenheimer said. (more…)
Filed under: climate and weather, Drought, Environment, forest fires, global warming, wildfires | Tagged: climate change, global warming, pine beetles, Wildfires | Leave a Comment »
Posted on June 12, 2012 by Bob Berwyn
Beetle-killed forests dominate some mid-elevation landscapes in Colorado.
Udall, Bennet seek to double appropriation in 2012 farm bill
By Summit Voice
SUMMIT COUNTY — The U.S. Forest Service needs more money to stay on pace with removing beetle-killed trees from western forests, and Colorado’s two senators this week introduced an amendment to the 2012 Farm Bill that would double the budgeted amount from $100 million to $200 million.
The bill would encourage the Forest Service to partner with the private sector to develop some economic value for the dead trees, something that has proven to be a vexing challenge for struggling sawmills in the region and for proponents of using the wood for energy, who have gained very little traction as more and more studies show that large-scale bioenergy from forest products is not sustainable. (more…)
Filed under: Colorado, Environment, Forest health, forests, pine beetles, pine beetles and wildfires, US Forest Service | Tagged: bark beetles, forest health funding, Mark Udall, Michael Bennet, pine beetles, United States Forest Service | 1 Comment »
Posted on April 30, 2012 by Bob Berwyn
Help grow Summit County's future forest with the Bristlecone Foundation. PHOTO BY BOB BERWYN.
Proceeds benefit local hospice and home care
By Summit Voice
SUMMIT COUNTY — Along with efforts by the U.S. Forest Service to reforest local campgrounds, the Bristlecone Foundation will continue its legacy forest campaign with another round of planting on June 2.
The campaign, now in its third year, benefits the home care and hospice patients of Bristlecone Health Services and helps renew the forests of Summit County. To date, more than 4,000 trees have been planted around the county, with each seedling telling a story of love and compassion. (more…)
Filed under: Breckenridge, Colorado, Dillon, Environment, forests, Frisco, Silverthorne, Summit County Colorado, Summit County news | Tagged: Bristlecone Foundation, Forest health, Legacy forest campaign, pine beetles, reforestation, Summit County Colorado | Leave a Comment »
Posted on March 20, 2012 by Bob Berwyn
$300,000 to fund neighborhood, community projects
The U.S. Forest clearcut this section of Swan Mountain a few years ago.
By Summit Voice
SUMMIT COUNTY — Local homeowners and communities once have the opportunity to reduce wildfire risks to their neighborhoods through two grant programs, with a total of $300,000 available for mitigation projects.
Applications are due in late April, and some good info is online in this short video from the local wildfire council.
Working together, Summit County stakeholders have treated more than 4,600 acres since adoption of a community wildfire protection plan in 2006.
The ongoing hazardous fuels reduction program targets private landowners who coordinate community wide projects, including loosely affiliated contiguous homeowners and organized HOAs. Grant applications are online at the Summit County wildfire mitigation website. (more…)
Filed under: Environment, forest fires, Forest health, pine beetles, pine beetles and wildfires, Summit County Colorado, Summit County news | Tagged: Forest health, grants for fuel reduction, pine beetles, Summit County News, wildfire mitigation | 1 Comment »
Posted on March 16, 2012 by Bob Berwyn
CU researchers document accelerated breeding by tree-killing insects
Colorado's high-elevation forests are becoming more susceptible to insect infestation as the climate warms dramatically. In this image taken from I-70 in Summit County, beetle-killed forests are visible on the Frisco Peninsula, in the middle distance, and near Breckenridge, in the background below Mt. Guyot and Mt. Baldy.
By Bob Berwyn
SUMMIT COUNTY — In one of the clearest signs yet that global warming is having a direct impact on the environment and economy of the Colorado high country, a trio of University of Colorado researchers say they’ve shown that mountain pine beetles have responded to climate change by speeding up their breeding cycle.
Because of the extra annual generation of beetles, there could be up to 60 times as many beetles attacking trees in any given year, their study found. And in response to warmer temperatures at high elevations, pine beetles also are better able to survive and attack trees that haven’t previously developed defenses.
That puts other high-elevation pine species, including limber, whitebark and even the iconic bristlecone pines at risk, according to CU graduate student Scott Ferrenberg, who launched the high elevation pine beetle study.
“They have not yet reached their maximum development rate. They have the potential to develop even faster,” Ferrenberg said, explaining why the current epidemic is unprecedented. “Nobody really understood what climate was going to mean in this context,” he added. (more…)
Filed under: Colorado, Environment, forests, global warming, pine beetles | Tagged: bark beetles, climate, global warming, pine beetles, University of Colorado Mountain Research station | 5 Comments »